Brand Safety

There is no academic definition or consensus in the advertising industry about the meaning of the term Brand Safety, but based on a paper titled How to keep your brand safe online (2017) we define:

Brand Safety refers to the placement of display, video and native ad formats that DO NOT appear next to online content that is:

  • Illegal – in breach of the law (e.g. intellectual property infringing)
  • Illegitimate – widely unacceptable to brand advertisers for being socially unfavorable (e.g. sexual content, violence, terrorism, etc.)
  • Inappropriate – not in line with the band’s or category’s own values (this concept will be further analyzed in Brand Suitability)

There are topics where most brands DO NOT want to appear:

The consensus is general in categories such as:

  1. Military conflicts
  2. Obscenity
  3. Drugs
  4. Tobacco
  5. Sex
  6. Weapons
  7. Crime
  8. Death
  9. Piracy
  10. Hate speech
  11. Terrorism
  12. Fake news

If the content is deciding what is safe and unsafe, the main differentiation between platforms is whether the content is created by users (UGC- User Generated Content) or if it is curated (and closed) by the content creators.

Therefore, there are platforms that tend to be safer than others:

In addition, platforms such as YouTube (UGC) have a percentage of their inventory that is guaranteed in Brand Safety because it was verified by human beings.

This protection is called YouTube Select (ex-Google Preferred) and includes 5% of the most popular channels with greater human and machine learning control.

The CPM in this type of offering is considerably more expensive (and with more and more layers of safety it is getting more expensive) and must be, most of the time, through a Google Salesperson.

Anyway, YouTube presents it as a tool to have more certainty (Dixit), but they cannot guarantee 100% security to the brand either.